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By Eric Naki

Political Editor


Axed SABC news boss claims ‘political interference’ cost her, her job

She was responding to affidavits produced by SABC group executives in an earlier grievance she laid with the broadcaster, which was not resolved by the time she was fired.


The SABC’s fired head of news and current affairs, Phathiswa Magopeni, is fighting back, claiming political interference cost her her job.

In a statement responding to claims SABC bosses and board members had tried to influence her editorial decisions, Magopeni claimed that, in doing so, they had abused their authority and been guilty of administrative overreach and editorial interference.

She was responding to affidavits produced by SABC group chief executive Madoda Mxakwe and board chair Bongumusa Makhathini in an earlier grievance she laid with the broadcaster, which was not resolved by the time she was fired.

They both vehemently denied they ever interfered with news processes or instructed her what to do; nor did they systematically tried to get rid of her. In her response to replies by Mxakwe and Makhathini, Magopeni said they were trying to “discredit me as untrustworthy”.

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Regarding an unscheduled interview with ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa by the SABC in October last year, she was adamant Mxakwe and Makhathini put pressure on her to authorise or have the interview broadcast. Ramaphosa was, at the time, on an ANC election campaign for the November local government in Limpopo.

Mxakwe allegedly instructed management at the SABC’s Polokwane office to conduct the unscheduled interview on 24 October, contrary to Magopeni’s decision as head of news to stop the interview, which fell outside the standard newsroom processes.

Makhathini also allegedly tried to convince her to allow the interview, she claimed. She also alleged Makhathini tried to make the SABC portray new Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini as being “unfit to lead AmaZulu” and that he was “one of those not pleased” with the king.

He allegedly told her the media coverage of the royal family succession battle was one-sided.

“Makhathini was not a source as he claims, but an active player in the story and sought to use my relationship with him to get SABC News to drive his efforts to influence the succession battle,” she said.

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